Friday, 24 April 2015

Tour to the United Kingdom in the Footsteps of Jane Austen

I have been waiting about two years for this September to come around so I can join Whitecroft Traditional Tours on a fabulous trip in the footsteps of my heroine, Jane Austen.  

I have been busy preparing a very special small project for the participants to make on our workshop day in Bath (but that is a secret for another time)...

Due to illness and various reasons, there are a couple of vacancies for this year's tour commencing 27 September, 2015.  If you are interested in joining me please click here for booking information.

Here is the fabulous itinerary of the trip:

Day 1 - arrive at the hotel - Bath Spa Hotel - a beautiful house built in 1835 by General Augustus Andrews, who had retired from the Indian Army.   Set in seven acres of gardens with exotic trees and shrubs, the hotel was renovated over a 3 year period and restored to its former glory.   It has stunning views over the City of Bath and is only a 10 minute walk away from this wonderful Georgian city.  Refined and quintessentially English, this is a luxurious hotel with an award winning restaurant and it offers guests the various facilities of a spa. 
Settle into your room before meeting for afternoon tea and an introduction by Katrina Hadjimichael and Helen Bertram of Whitecroft Tours.  Dinner this evening will be in the hotel.             (AT, D)

Day 2 - this morning after breakfast, we will have a walking tour of Bath, led by a local blue badge guide.   We will see all the places familiar to Jane Austen and visit the Museum of Costume - one of the largest and finest collections of fashionable dress in the UK.  The extensive displays include some 200 dressed figures and many are shown in period room settings or against painted backdrops of Bath.  We will also visit the Jane Austen Centre - which offers a snapshot of her life during Regency times and explores how living in this magnificent City affected Jane Austen's life and writing.  'Live' guides, costume, film (and a giftshop!) await us at this premier attraction.
Dinner this evening will be in the hotel.    (B, D)

Day 3 - today we will take a very sentimental journey to Hampshire - a county well known to Jane Austen and her family.   Our first stop will be Chawton and Jane Austen's House.   A charming red-brick 17thC house, where Jane spent the last and most productive years of her life, completing the last three novels and living happily in a female household with her Mother, Sister and family friend, Martha Lloyd.  Here we will see the patchwork quilt, of the old English Medallion pattern, that was made by Jane and her Mother and Sister, whilst they were at Chawton.   A tour of the cottage and the surrounding village will give us further insight into her life. 

We will then make the journey to Winchester and visit the Cathedral - Jane's final resting place .  Following a tour of the Cathedral, we will continue our journey and visit Steventon and see the village church where Jane was baptised.  After viewing this beautiful building we will continue to The Vyne - a beautiful mansion, steeped in history, that has royal connections dating back to Henry VIII and has inspired art, architecture and writers including Jane Austen.   Here we will have a private tour of the house and take tea before leaving Hampshire and making the journey back to our hotel in Bath.           (B, L & D)

Day 4 - after breakfast in the hotel, we will travel west to the county of Herefordshire - where we will have a private visit to Hereford City Museum.  Here we will see some of the reserve collection of 17th, 18th and 19th century quilts as well as Regency costume.  Unlike most larger museums, at Hereford we can really get amongst these treasures and be inspired for our future quilts and other embroidery projects.

Before leaving Hereford, we will visit a fabric store and then we will travel across to the county of Warwickshire and visit the hidden jewel of Stoneleigh Abbey, whose history began in 1154 when Henry II granted the lands to a community of Cistercian monks.  More than 800 years later the structural development of the main house and adjacent buildings can be seen, providing a rich tapestry of architecture and landscape.  For 400 years, Stoneleigh Abbey was the country seat of Jane Austen's relatives, the Leighs.  In August 1806, Jane, with her Mother and Sister, travelled to Stoneleigh Abbey.   Jane was so inspired by the house, the parkland and the family intrigues that she wove descriptions of the interiors, views of the grounds and cameos of the family into her novels.  Elizabeth Lord, known to the Leigh family as Aunt Betty, whose romantic story inspired that of Persuasion's Anne Elliot.  Dinner this evening will be en route back to our hotel in Bath.    (B, L & D

Day 5 - today we will stay at our hotel and enjoy the special project that Katrina has designed for the tour and in the later afternoon, we will visit the Assembly Rooms and take afternoon tea - as Jane and all her friends would have done.     Dinner this evening will be in the hotel.          (B, L & D)

Day 6 - the Victoria and Albert Museum is our destination today.  We will have a private guided tour of their collection of quilts and other textiles and we will also have the opportunity to visit other parts of this - one of the world's greatest museums - on our own,  to explore any aspect of its collection that inspires us.   Dinner will be in the Victoria & Albert Museum before returning to Bath.  (B & D)

Day 7 - today will be the second day of our workshop with Katrina.  We will also have time to go and explore a little more of the City of Bath and visit the quilt shop as well as numerous galleries and antique shops in this beautiful Georgian city.  Dinner this evening will be in the hotel with an after dinner talk on an aspect of Jane's life.
          (B, AT & D)
Day 8 - breakfast in the hotel and then we will make the short journey to the village of Lacock, by the banks of the River Avon.   A village that is often seen in films - a living film set - where we can walk in the footsteps of the stars of Cranford, Pride & Prejudice and, even, Harry Potter.  We will visit Lacock Abbey, with its golden cloisters and mediaeval nunnery rooms.   We can also visit the Fox Talbot Museum which celebrates the invention of photography and offers unique topical exhibitions set within the timber framed gallery.
After our tour of the village, we will visit King John's Hunting Lodge - almost certainly the oldest house in the village.    The owner of this traditional tearoom, Margaret Vaughan is the author of 'Tea with The Bennets' and we will be treated to a special meal here before returning to our hotel.       (B, L & D)

Day 9 - a day in Lyme Regis - the scenery of Lyme and its surroundings is - according to David Cecil, who wrote the portrait of Jane Austen - at its best in a fine autumn and Jane Austen responded to it - as we will,  as we are visiting during the perfect time of year.  Tranquilizing and refreshing, its beauty lingered on in her memory to be recalled in Persuasion twelve years later.   We will be guided around the town and shown the important features relating to Jane Austen.    We will spend the whole day in the area and dinner will be en route to Bath.        (B & D)
Day 10 - after breakfast, we will make the very short journey to the American Museum in Britain and enjoy a private tour of their wonderful quilt collection.   There is also an amazing collection of furniture and other artefacts that are a 'must see' during a tour to this part of England.
Tonight we will have our final dinner - but prior to dinner, we will enjoy a private tour of the Roman Baths and the Spa waters that make this City so famous throughout the world.  (B & D)

Day 11 - our final morning together in the magnificent city of Bath - home and inspiration to our heroine,  Jane Austen.   We will all return to our various parts of the world full of memories and treasures from this time spent together and enjoying the enthusiasm of Katrina Hadjimichael, who has dedicated all her quilts and work to the memory of Jane Austen.        (B)

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